Huffpost WorldPost

Denmark, Belgium Join Fight Against ISIS In Iraq

Posted: Updated:
In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 photo released by the U.S. Air Force, a formation of U.S. Navy F-18E Super Hornets leaves after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq, as part of U.S. led coalition airstrikes on the Islamic State group and other targets in Syria. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON (AP) -- Denmark and Belgium on Friday became the latest countries to join the U.S.-led coalition that is launching airstrikes on Islamic State group militants in Iraq. Lawmakers in Britain were also debating whether to commit warplanes to the struggle.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said her government would send four operational planes and three reserve jets along with 250 pilots and support staff to the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq. The deployment will last for 12 months. Lawmakers in Denmark must also approve, but that is considered a formality.

"No one should be ducking in this case," she said. "Everyone should contribute."

Belgian participation for one month was authorized by the country's Chamber of Representatives Friday afternoon after more than 3½ hours of debate.

The Belgian military contingent should number 120, including eight pilots. Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said the F-16 multirole fighters, to be based in Jordan, took off for a night stopover in Greece before the lawmakers voted so they would be ready to go into action as early as Saturday.

Belgium is between governments, so the decision required prior approval from its caretaker government as well as the political parties trying to form a new coalition based on the results of May's elections.

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said a failure to act against a group that's committed a series of beheadings and crucifixions was not an option.

"This is about psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us and we do have to realize that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us," he said. "There isn't a 'walk on by' option. There isn't an option of just hoping this will go away."

Cameron told the House of Commons that the campaign would be marked by "patience and persistence, not shock and awe" -- a direct reference to the phrase associated with the invasion of Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The unpopular intervention in Iraq has cast a shadow over how to deal with the Islamic State group, with critics fearing another protracted and bloody conflict that could spread around the region. The Islamic State group controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

The motion before lawmakers in London did not address any action in Syria, though many sought to push the government to admit that taking on militants there would be the likely next step. Cameron has justified action in Iraq as lawful because the Iraqi leadership has asked for help -- but his detractors say action in Syria would be illegal because President Bashar Assad has not invited outsiders to assist. Both Denmark and Belgium also are confining their actions to Iraq.

Lawmakers in Britain are expected to approve the motion, which is supported by all three main parties. Britain is expected to deploy Tornado fighters, a handful of which are in Cyprus -- striking distance of northern Iraq.